Workout Wednesday – The 24 Track Session

I like this workout because it has both a speed and an endurance component while also training the athlete to run fast on tired legs. It can also be easily tailored to the type of racing an athlete is competing in short course or long and where he or she is in their build cycle.


Start with a few minutes of dynamic stretching or movement prep. I like to use eccentric calf raises, glute bridges or clamshells, and standing, one-leg hip extensions.
Afterwards, run four laps of a standard track (roughly 1 mile).

Do the first two laps easy, then on laps three and four, run the turns easy and on the straightaways, do running drills for the first half (high knees or butt kickers) and then accelerate to 5K speed for the second half.

Main Set

12×200 fast followed by 400 steady
The 200s should be run quickly but not at an all-out sprint pace. The 400s should be run at a steady endurance pace.
If you’re just getting back into speedwork, you can start by breaking up the 12 200s into 3x[4×200/400] with 2 minutes rest between sets. Then advance to a 2x[6×200/400], and then to the full 12.

For short course athletes, run the 200s faster (around pace for a 400m repeat) and the 400s around marathon pace; for long course athletes, run the 200s a little slower (around pace for 800m repeat) and the 400s close to 1/2 marathon pace.
Total of 4.5 miles


Run a mile easy in the opposite direction around the track as what you ran the repeats.


Coach Duncan Grainge of SSIU Racing

7 Awkward (but useful!) Swim Drills

Improving your freestyle demands that you embrace the unnatural.
If swimming technique felt like second nature, we’d all be gold medallists by now! Some swim drills can make you feel like you’re awkwardly floundering in the water, but with practice can really have an impact on how you swim.
Add these tricky but purposeful drills to your swim repertoire and reap the stroke-enhancing benefits.

1. Shark drill

How to: Hold a kickboard between your thighs. Swim freestyle with no kick. At the finish of each stroke reach a bit further and tap the part of the kickboard that is sticking out of the water (your “fin”).

Purpose: Ensures that you finish each stroke past your hip, and also encourages the torso to rotate without the hips and legs, as well as a quick arm recovery.

Variation: Use a pull buoy instead of a kickboard.

2. Fist drill

How to: Ball your hands into fists and swim freestyle.

Purpose: To feel how the forearm and upper arm are a part of your “paddle,” and to help increase stroke turnover.
Variation: Hold a tennis (or similarly sized) ball in both hands to prevent cheating and boost the lack of resistance on the palm.

3. Tarzan

How to: Swim freestyle while holding your head out of the water and looking towards the end of the pool.

Purpose: This drill builds neck strength and body awareness for open water sighting. It also serves as a way to check if you cross the centerline when your hands enter the water.

Variation: Try to keep your head lifted out of the water while keeping the arms underwater during the recovery portion of the stroke for a version of the doggie paddle.

4. Three Wide

How to: Swim an entire set with two other people (of similar ability) in your lane. Push off every wall at the same time. Switch positions within the lane on a regular basis.

Purpose: To get used to swimming in very tight spaces. Learn how to get aggressive for your patch of water and reduce the fear of being touched, pushed, hit and kicked.

Variation: Push off at the same time for the first lap and then drop into a pace line (similar to cycling) to practice drafting.

5. Uncoor

How to: Stroke with the right arm only, keep the left arm at your side, and breathe only to the left side. Switch arms and breathing sides every 25 or 50.

Purpose: This uncoordinated movement helps to work on breath timing, stroke coordination and body rotation by forcing you into an awkward stroke pattern.

6. Vertical kicking

How to: Position yourself vertically in the deep end of the pool (must be at least 1 foot deeper than your height). Clasp your hands around your waist to prevent using them. Keep your head above the water by freestyle kicking.

Purpose: Improve freestyle kick technique and strength.

Variation: Slowly raise your fingers, hands, wrists and forearms above the water to observe the change in balance.


7. Open and shut

How to: Swim freestyle with one hand closed in a fist and the other hand palm open. Switch hands every 25 or 50 yards.

Purpose: Helps develop a feel for the water; work on balance and gain awareness of how important a flat palm is to propulsion.

Variation: Take this drill up a notch by holding a tennis ball in one hand and a paddle in the other hand. Swap hand objects every 50 yards.


Coach Duncan Grainge

Workout Wednesday – Do Anywhere Strength Circuit

This workout is great for triathletes who don’t belong to a gym or who might be traveling and not have access to their regular gym equipment.

Workout notes:

First, complete the warm-up sequence. Then move to the circuit exercises.

For the circuit portions, complete each exercise continuously for 50 seconds, then take no more than 10 seconds to switch to the next exercise. If done continuously, this will be a very challenging workout that will also give you a bit of a cardio burn as well.

After you have done each exercise once, you will have completed one round. Complete a total of three rounds, with a one-minute rest between each round.


Repeat this light cardio warm-up twice before beginning the main circuit.

1. March in place for 60 seconds

2. Run in place for 60 seconds

• 20 seconds high knees (quickly tucking your knees as close to your chest as possible)
• 20 seconds with legs wide (slightly wider than shoulder distance apart)
• 20 seconds butt kicks (as if you are trying to kick your butt with your heels)

3. Side jacks for 30 seconds
Start standing with your feet shoulder-distance apart. Step quickly to the right and do a partial squat. As you squat, raise your arms above your head. Return to the start position and repeat with the left leg. Repeat for the time duration.

4. Lunge with alternate arm raises for 30 seconds
As you lunge forward with the right leg, raise your left arm. If you cannot keep your balance with your arm raised, then simply do alternate lunges.

The Circuit (50 seconds per exercise)

Single-leg squat

How to: Begin in a standing position on the left leg. Slowly lower yourself as far as you can. Push back up to return to the start position. Switch legs halfway.

Box incline pushup

How to: These can be done with your knees on the ground if you cannot do them with your legs at full extension. It is more important to have perfect form than it is to have your legs extended. Put your hands on a box and the feet on the ground. Slowly lower the chest until it is even with the hands. Push back up to return to start position.

Basic crunches

How to: The title might say basic, but when these are done correctly, they will pump your abs up! Keep your back flat and try to prevent it arching as much as possible.

Backward lunge

How to: Begin with feet shoulder-width apart and hands on your waist. Step the left foot backwards until the knee makes contact with the ground. Return to the start position by pushing off your left foot and returning to the start position. Switch legs halfway.

Alternate Superman

How to: Lie flat on your stomach, with your arms stretched over your head and your palms facing down. Lift your left arm and your right leg, hold briefly. Switch sides. Repeat.

Box dips

How to: Begin in a sitting position with the hands facing forward on the box and feet on the ground. Slowly lower your body until the arms are at 90 degrees and then return to start.

Single-leg bridge

How to: Lying on the ground with knees bent, take one leg and cross it over the other. Keep shoulders on the ground as you raise your hips up to the ceiling and slowly lower down. Switch legs halfway.


How to: Start by lying face down, with your forearms on the ground, palms facing flat on the ground. Come up on to your toes and forearms. Make sure your back stays flat with no arch or pike. Keep your abdominals tight. Hold the whole time.

Squat thrusts

How to: Begin with feet shoulder-width apart in a standing position. Descend into a squat position and kick the legs back and bring your hands forward to create a pushup position.

Once the legs come into contact with the ground, pull them back under the body and return to the standing position. To increase the difficulty, you can add a hop when you come up to standing position, and/or a pushup when you are in the high plank position.

Bicycle crunches

How to: Lie on your back as if you are going to do a basic crunch. Raise your legs so they are at a 90-degree angle, with your shins parallel to the floor. Place your hands lightly behind your head, not pulling on your neck.

Extend your left leg straight and bring your right knee into your chest while bringing your left elbow over to your knee. (They likely will not touch, and that’s not necessarily the goal.) Think about twisting to bring your chest to the knee, rather than your arm to avoid pulling on your neck. Alternate sides continuously for the whole segment.


Coach Duncan Grainge of SSIU Racing

How do I get passed my training plateau?

In the tri world, a plateau is when you seem stuck at a certain level, and no matter how hard you keep pushing, you just can’t seem to improve. Plateaus occur when you’ve maximised your ability to produce speed with your current skill mix.

They become more common the longer you’re in the sport and are often due to unbalanced training that focuses on only what you’re are good at, while ignoring other sports and skills. Unfortunately, the hard truth is that those things you don’t like to do in training are likely underdeveloped and may be the root cause of your plateau, these are often referred to as “limiters.”

Let’s say that in swimming, you’ve turned the “shoulder strength dial” all the way by doing endless paddle sets. You’re now going as fast as possible by muscling through sets with your shoulders, so maybe it’s time to start focusing on another drill, such as kick strength, catch technique, or rotation.

An example in cycling could be an athlete who only does long, moderate-intensity rides. After a while, they start bumping up against their ceiling (which we could also call “speed potential”), and the improvements stall out. Get past this by raising your speed potential with some high-intensity sessions like 10 x 30 sec all-out, on 90 sec rest, threshold repeats (3 x 10 min hard, on 5 min rest), or with bike racing (which also addresses bike handling limiters…double win!).

In running, a simple way to check for limiters is by checking your speed potential verses your race performance with an online run calculator. If you plug in your values and see that you can hit the times for the longer intervals, but not the shorter ones, then you may be on a plateau due to a lack of “top-end” speed or vice-versa. After gathering that info, you can easily shift your training focus to address your run limiter, and get off that pesky plateau.


Coach Grainge of SSIU Racing


Swim Terminology 101

Brush up on common pool workout terms with Coach Duncan Grainge’s glossary.


(ex: “4×100 on 2:00, descend 1–4”): The goal of this set is to decrease the time it takes to swim each 100. Swim the first 100 at a conservative effort, No. 2 a bit faster, the third even faster and No. 4 your fastest. This type of set is best for learning how to control pace so you finish strong.


(ex: “8×50 on :60, build each 50”): This term refers to effort and means to build from an easy effort at the beginning of each 50 to a strong effort by the end of the 50. Typically, this term is found in a warm-up set to gradually increase your heart rate to prepare for the main set.

Breathing Pattern

(ex: “5×150 on 3:00, 3/5/7 breathing pattern by 50”): This set instructs you to swim the first 50 breathing every third stroke, the second 50 breathing every fifth stroke, and the final 50 of each 150 breathing every seventh stroke.


(ex: “500 TT”): Time trial. This means you’ll do a timed effort of a prescribed distance, going as fast as you can for that interval. These are good opportunities to test your fitness to compare to past and future sets of similar length.


Swim as easily as possible during this type of set to get your heart rate and breathing to return to normal and allow your body to recover fully. There are no winners or records to be set during a recovery swim.

Negative Split

(ex: “500 pull, negative split”): Swim the second half faster than the first half. In this example, the second 250 should be faster than the first. This type of interval teaches pace control and finishing strong.


(ex: “4×100 base”): Your “base pace” is the pace you can comfortably hold for multiple 100s in a row with a few seconds to spare at a moderate effort. So, if you can swim 10x100s comfortably hitting 1:35–1:37 every time, you belong in the 1:40 or 1:45 lane. Some workouts are prescribed off of base, so you may be assigned 100 on base, 200 on base +:05, etc.


Coach Duncan Grainge of SSIU Racing

Workout Wednesday – Push Your Engine Then Recover

 January 31, 2018

Running requires enough time to be durable and to have the engine to support your goals, and rewards economical and efficient movements that require coordinated muscular activations but it also punishes you if you overdo any of the work.

This session is designed as one that lets you push your engine, but also includes enough recovery to be able to keep pushing that engine appropriately during other parts of the week.

15 min warm up, focus on cadence first

Main Set

3 x 30 sec stride, 90 sec easy (strides are an acceleration from your steady pace to a fast, smooth effort)
10 min build over the first 5 min to tempo/10k effort, hold for 5 min at 10k effort, then right into
3 x (30 sec FAST, 30 sec easy or walk)
5 min easy effort
10 min all 10 min tempo/10k effort, again, right into
3 x (:30 FAST, :30 easy or walk)

Cool down
Easy effort to round out the hour, re-focusing on cadence and adding attention to posture.

We offer either one to one or group coaching throughout the season at our Northwood venue. Please contact us at for availability and bookings.

Coach Grainge of SSIU Racing


Get more from massage

10 tips to get the most out of your sessions

When it comes to massage, keep in mind the old adage that “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” No one has conclusively proven a benefit, but that doesn’t mean you’re wasting your time. (And they do feel nice.)

Here are some tips for getting the most out of your sessions.

Time it right

“When I’m really training hard, I’ll add a massage because I want to make sure I’m recovering as fast as I can,” Eric Young (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) says. And Tiidus agrees that heavy training may push us beyond that inflammatory threshold, where massage might be of the most help. So if you’re going to get a rub down, the best time to do it is after hard workouts.

See the therapist who’s on top of the research

You’re not looking for incense and mood lighting. If a massage is going to help you, it will be in large part because it was delivered by someone who specialises in sport science and stays abreast of the literature on things like mechanotransduction (the process by which soft-tissue pressure and stretching promotes immune and biochemical responses).

Ask for recommendations and interview different therapists. You’re after something more akin to a medical treatment than a spa day.

Find a middle ground

Clearly you want more than gentle caressing. But, as Young points out, “if you’re grabbing onto the table and crying, that’s probably doing damage.” One study on massage found that overly vigorous sessions increased muscle damage. It has also been shown that the degree of pressure has an impact on the balance between inflammation-promoting and repair-promoting macrophages.

Work your way up

Our veins have one-way valves that prevent blood from flowing in the wrong direction. Massaging against blood flow can damage these valves and cause varicose veins. Make sure the therapist works your arms and legs in the direction toward your heart.

Don’t wait too long

The immunological benefits of massage appear to be greatest when treatment takes place within two hours of damaging exercise. If you can’t fit one into that window, plan for no later than the next day. Macrophages shift from inflammatory to repair mode 48 hours after muscle damage occurs. Inhibiting them with massage when they’re in this mode could be counterproductive.

Mind the pills

The same rules apply to painkillers. NSAIDs like acetaminophen and ibuprofen block inflammation, which can be good or bad, depending on where your balance is at. While researchers still debate their effects on training, there is growing evidence.

This includes a well-cited study from Denmark in the Journal of Applied Physiology, showing that NSAIDs taken post-exercise by male endurance athletes inhibit satellite cell activity, which is critical to muscle repair and super-compensation.

Don’t ignore the other stuff

Massage doesn’t replace things like cool downs, recovery rides, and stretching — all of which are backed by extensive research. In fact, a 1983 study out of Sweden published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine found that stretching was more effective for recovery and range of motion than massage in healthy male volunteers.

But don’t exercise after massage

No study has found benefits to pre-workout massage. Hard exercise does further damage and would undo any potential immunological gains from massage.

Yes, use your foam roller

The rabbit study that found benefits to muscle repair used a mechanical massager that was more like a foam roller than a regular massage. (Apologies if you were envisioning lab assistants pampering rabbits on little bunny massage tables.)

Two recent studies showed that foam rolling reduces soreness and allows runners to restore their full sprint speed sooner. Higher density foam with bevels appears to increase the effects.

Tune out

Physiological benefits or not, there’s no denying a massage can be good for the soul. “Sometimes it’s just nice to sit there and force yourself to think about the race,” Young says. (We also like thinking about nothing at all.)


We offer either one to one or group coaching throughout the season at our Northwood venue. Please contact us at for availability and bookings.

Coach Grainge of SSIU Racing


Threshold Pace Workouts

Gain Running Strength & Speed with Threshold Pace Workouts


If you want to become a stronger, faster and more powerful runner, than you should be including lactate threshold (LT) sessions into your running regime.

If you haven’t had an LT Test I’d recommend getting one to help you learn your training zones. Knowledge is power! If it’s not convenient to get an LT test now, then base your LT on your best 10km running pace.

Working at your threshold or LT pace requires much greater mental tenacity and fortitude. When you are running at your threshold pace your breathing rate rises, heart rate increases, leg muscles become slightly heavy due to the muscle acidity accumulation, balance, coordination are all under the supreme test. Training at your threshold also allows you to work through and become familiar with the stresses on race day as well.

Remember if you train your body and mind to become accustomed to these symptoms you’ll be better prepared than most of your competitors.

An added long-term benefit of LT training is not only tolerating the physiological and psychological variables noted above but also this type of training enhances your body’s “clearing” mechanism that handles high levels of lactic acid and converts it back to energy!

Quite often during racing in all three disciplines there are accelerations that will go above your threshold or LT pace. If you’ve done the training like the workout below, once you get back to your race pace, your clearing will work like magic!

You’ll feel ready and able to maintain your pace rather than be dropped.

This is simple and effective run session to use as a foundation to start training at your threshold pace. You’ll find you’ll become a stronger more economical runner if you stay consistent with this type of training.

Try to incorporate an LT/Threshold session once a week in your overall regime. I’ll be including additional threshold sessions in the coming weeks as well.

We offer either one to one or group coaching throughout the season at our Northwood venue. Please contact us at for availability and bookings.

Coach Grainge of SSIU Racing



48 hours to go!


48 hours to go, yes just 48 hours until your race, the one you’ve been training for, thinking about, and now it’s almost here.

Before you start to panic here’s a countdown guide for your big day, follow this and everything will go smoothly and you will put yourself in the best possible place to have a great race.

So here we go…

48:00; Check the Weather & Do a short, fast workout

Knowing what the weather will be like will allow you to make a last-minute addition to your kit bag for race day, cold, then a warm top, warm or dare I say it hot, then you can prepare accordingly. Not doing this check can lead to a miserable experience come race day.

Your next-to-last workout before a race should be relatively easy, so you’re not fatigued on race morning, but it should include a dash of speed to prime your nervous system for competition. For example, run a mile easy, then run 4 x 30-second relaxed sprints, focussing on your form

47:00-39:00; Stay off your feet

Avoid spending any unnecessary time on your feet today as much as possible. Which means, much to the dismay of your partner that the household chores can wait until next weekend!

31:00; Get a good night’s sleep

Ensuring you get good quality sleep is critical to athletic performance all of the time, but it is never more important than in the final few days before your race.
As a result of pre-race nerves and the inevitable early-morning race starts, it can be difficult to get a full eight hours of sleep the night before a race. So be sure to get a good, long sleep two nights out.

22:00; Do a short, easy workout

A short, and I mean very short and easy workout is better than none at all, the day before a race. It relieves mental and physical tension and keeps the body primed for performance.

21:00-10:00; Stop the carbo-loading and drink

Now is not the time to stop shovelling those carbs in, if you have done it right then you’ve already maxed out your glycogen stores. Now choose familiar foods that have always worked well for your body in the past, i.e. your normal diet. Now is not the time to experiment.
Make sure you are drinking sufficient amounts of fluid, which does not include anything with alcohol, that can wait until after the race as you celebrate your achievement with friends and family.

20:00; Final gear check

There’s nothing worse than showing up at a race venue and realising you forgot something important, like your wetsuit or bike shoes. To avoid this experience, take some time to check that you’ve got all your gear together, you should have already got it all packed, but one last sanity check is a good idea. It’s best to create a race gear checklist that you use for every race.

18:00; Plan for race morning

Race morning logistics can be stressful, especially if you are not prepared. Minimise this stress by having a plan for race morning that includes your wake-up time, a planned route to the race venue, a parking site and arrangements to get home after the race. Have a look at Hercules Events website to gather all of the information you need for an easy and smooth race morning.

9:00; Visualise your race

Mental rehearsal, or visualisation, is an incredibly powerful tool of psychological preparation for a race. It is not a tool you have to save for the night before a race, but there is certainly no better time to use it. After getting into bed, clear your mind, which means no tablets/phones and imagine the next morning’s race as vividly as you can.
Obviously, you can’t go through the entire course in real time, so focus on critical parts such as the start, transition, bike mount dismount. Imagine moving with perfect form, feeling easy and strong. Don’t complete your mental rehearsal race miraculously free of fatigue. Instead, see yourself fighting through the fatigue.

3:00; Wake up early

Research on the relationship between the relationship of your body’s natural rhythms and exercise performance suggests that optimal performance is not possible within a couple hours of waking up in the morning. So set an early alarm to give your mind and body plenty of time to get up to speed. Try to climb out of bed at least three hours before the starting gun blasts.

2:45; Eat your pre-race meal

Nutrition is the most important factor on race morning, so it’s also important to wake up in plenty of time to consume and digest a good quality pre-race breakfast. You need to aim to have between 75-100 grams of carbohydrate three hours before your race start, or at least 50 grams two hours out.

0:30; Warm up thoroughly

Start your warmup about 30 mins before your race is due to start. Start with an easy jog, then complete some dynamic stretches such as walking lunges and arm circles, and finish with a few 20- to 30-second bursts at race pace.

0:00; Race time

Most importantly remember this is a reward for all your hard work in training, go out and enjoy it, race hard and don’t forget to smile for the photos at the finish!
This is brought to you, courtesy of our friends are SISU Racing.

SISU Racing provide professional coaching for triathletes of all levels, from beginner to elite. If you have any questions around your race or you are interested in taking your training to the next level then please contact them on email or visit for more information.

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